- Galore Media says traditional ads just don’t work for Gen Z, the 70 million people born between 1996 and 2010. Instead it focuses on creating content for marketers and connecting them with influencers. “This is how everybody will have to build a media company in the future.”
When the digital-media company Galore talks to prospective advertisers, it tries to sell them on its social-media network, its ability to make content for brands, its relationship with influencers, and its track record of producing events. It barely bothers selling them paid ads.
Mike Albanese, Galore’s CEO, said that even just a few years ago, digital-media companies looking to capture the millennial market were focused on a fairly traditional ad strategy.
“Let’s make a lot of content, figure out how to drive lots of traffic, get some big audience numbers, and kind of wrap advertising around it,” Albanese said. “That no longer holds up.”
Today, Albanese says, “display ads on a website just aren’t going to get you there, especially with a generation of consumers who don’t even think of websites – and if they do, they use ad blockers,” he said. “There are just too many challenges with that model.”
As an alternative, Galore operates as a specialist agency for its advertisers, helping them make ads, distribute content (videos and photos), and reach a community through a number of outlets.
Many media companies, from BuzzFeed to Condé Nast, have edged into making content and ads for paying marketers. Vice Media operates its own global ad agency. Yet they all still sell lots of ads.
In Galore’s case, the ads-are-secondary approach may simply represent a unique strategy for a publication that is focused on a hard-to-reach demographic: women between the ages of 16 to 24. Or it may be a harbinger in an industry where young consumers are increasingly able to avoid traditional advertising, even traditional digital ads.
“Yes, we have an audience that is unique in many ways,” Albanese added. “They are younger, they were 10 years old when the iPhone came out, and were raised on Tumblr. So Gen Z Media companies will need new revenue and distribution models. But we think this is how everybody will have to build a media company in the future.”
Galore does sell some old-fashioned display ads on its website, alongside articles with headlines like “9 Different Ways to Rock the Wet-Hair Look.” But these are almost throw-ins to bigger campaigns focused on connecting brands like L’Oreal and Neutrogena with young women.
The company tries all sorts of alternative tactics. For example, it operates a Slack channel for 1,500 of the company’s biggest fans, through which it bounces ideas off the fans as part of a real-time digital focus group – even tapping into this group to serve as “micro influencers” for paying advertisers on occasion.
Last year, Galore launched the Girl Cult franchise in New York, and it has grown it into a full-fledged festival this year, featuring speakers Tyra Banks and Kimora Lee Simmons with a number of performers and sponsors.
In addition, Galore creates and distributes content with the help of stars who resonate with its young audience, such as Kylie Jenner, Zendaya, and Sofia Richie, all while connecting marketers with top influencers through Kitten, an influencer-rep firm that it owns.
Marketers that specialize in trying to reach this young demographic tend to agree that this kind of multipronged approach is necessary.
“This consumer is tuning out standard advertising models,” said Nick Woodhouse, president and chief marketer officer of Authentic Brands Group, which owns Juicy Couture and Aeropostale. “Today’s consumer is looking for content that is cool, is peer-driven, and hits a chord.”
Albanese says Galore Media is on track to pull in $5 million in revenue this year, up from $2 million last year. Roughly 70% comes from running influencer campaigns and making content for marketers, while 20% comes from events. Just 10% comes from paid ads.
“It’s almost like the ads we sell are a nice-to-have for our partners,” he said. “It’s a total philosophical difference from most media companies.”